People queuing in the rain for Marks and Spencer’s? Has the world gone mad? Or is George Clooney giving away free luxury hampers? As odd as it may seem to Brits (for whom M&S is as about as exotic as its signature multi-packs of pants) queuing outside is business as usual for M&S since the chain opened its new flagship Paris store in November 2011.
Paradoxically, while the majority of the French love nothing more than criticizing British food, give them a Marks and Spencer’s chicken-tikka sarnie, a pack of scones or a treacle pudding and the superlatives flow like wine from a barrel. They’re also secret admirers of British fashion, and M&S has always fulfilled a French need for classicism whilst offering them cuts, colours and fabric types you don’t readily find in France. So much so that when Marks closed down its first Paris stores ten years ago (including a huge shop on Boulevard Haussmann, a location the chain would now kill for), many Parisians practically went into mourning.
As the queues suggest, this Champs-Elysées address (which opened in November 2011 and offers clothes and food ranges) is perhaps too small. But it's still the only M&S in central Paris, and therefore an address for fans of the chain to cherish – at least until a vast 7000m2 store is opens in Levallois-Perret before the end of 2012.